Does evolutionary theory provide any useful scientific benefit?


There is a name for such a fallacious argument, but I have forgotten the name. What you are demonstrating is that the question you asked, is assuming lots of things.

The truncated definition says that evolution is the change in allele frequency within a population. Obviously, humans and mice are two different populations, and your definition does not include that. Secondly, you are affirming the consequent (I think that is the fallacy)… that because allele frequencies can change within a population that therefore all populations must be the result of allele frequency change from a single species. But that is a separate step, and it is not included in your truncated definition. Your giant leaps of logic are not included in your defintion.

(Dcscccc) #268

you can also define evolution as species that created by designer. so its depend in the definition. most of the time when peoples speak about evolution they talk about commondescent or changes in the family level. so in popular terms i think its the correct definition. if you define evolution as change in allele frequencies, then even if creationism is true- evolution its still true. so its a problematic definition.

(Benjamin Kirk) #269

You’re just faking it.


When the world’s biology academy was pronounced guilty of fraud for a particular definition of the word “evolution”, that was a jumping-the-shark moment. It’s hard to proceed any further from that point.

Straw man arguments tire very quickly.


The truncated definition is exactly like this: defining a bicycle as a tire. Can you have a bicycle without a tire? No. Is a tire a bicycle? No.


I rest my case.


A light case, with nothing inside it. And still too heavy to carry.

(Benjamin Kirk) #274

Hello JohnZ,

How can a definition of a biological phenomenon be “exactly like” a definition of an object?

In your tortured analogy, which evolutionary phenomena (not mechanisms) are “exactly like” the frame, handlebars, pedals, and wheels? For your analogy to hold, none of those phenomena can include changes in allele frequencies in populations over time.

(Benjamin Kirk) #275

Another scientific and medical benefit:


As you imply, an analogy can break down. It especially breaks down if you refuse to acknowledge the sense of it. But your argument is backward, rather than forward, and that’s why you are having difficulty. If I said evolution was cell multiplication, you could ask the same thing: which evolutionary phenomena would exclude cell multiplication. Or if I said that evolution was dna replication, which evolutionary phenomena would exclude dna replication. Or if I said that evolution was life, which evolutionary phenomena would exclude life.

If allele frequencies change in populations over time, which everyone agrees they do, or at least could do, then without explaining how much time is involved, and without explaining that it is not just changes within populations, but the changes that result in new populations, then the definition only addresses something that is not the kind of evolution that evolutionary theory is primarily concerned with.


No. Again.

Apparently this cycle of explanation and denial is not going to lead to any sort of resolution, although it may be quite helpful to some readers comparing the perspectives. In its own way, it is illustrative of how people can approach a topic quite differently. Is the academic world of scientists one of total confusion and illogical flailing about? That hasn’t been my experience. Yet, some with no experience in that world insist that it is. They also insist it is overrun with massive fraudulence.

(Benjamin Kirk) #278

[quote=“johnZ, post:276, topic:548, full:true”]
As you imply, an analogy can break down.[/quote]
That’s true, but I didn’t imply it.

I’m not the one accusing others of fraud and refusing to support the accusation.

But there a huge difference, John: I could answer all those questions forthrightly and directly, but you can’t answer mine: which evolutionary phenomena (not mechanisms) are “exactly like” the frame, handlebars, pedals, and wheels?

If you say that one thing’s components are “exactly like” another thing’s components, why can’t you name those analogous components?

Why can’t you name a single one of your “other genetic changes” that’s not an allelic change? Why can’t you produce a single textbook that includes abiogenesis in the definition of evolution?

Then we agree that evolution has occurred and is occurring.

Changes in allele frequencies over time drive speciation. That’s obvious, don’t you think? Have you ever looked at the effect of a pericentric inversion on fertility in a heterozygote?

[quote] then the definition only addresses something that is not the kind of evolution that evolutionary theory is primarily concerned with.
[/quote]No, it clearly addresses the kind of evolution that evolutionary theory explains. The problem is that you accuse people of fraud without knowing what you are talking about.

Again, to put it in the most theologically threatening terms: what proportion of the functional genetic differences between you and a mouse, crossing not only species, but higher taxa, are merely allelic?


Yes. That is still the elephant in the room that must be addressed. Johnz’s claims remind me of oft told stories of editors of mathematics journals and even Dept of Mathematics Chairpersons when asked what is the strangest part of their job. Many have said, “I regularly get letters and emails from non-mathematicians claiming to have solved one of the grand unsolved problems of mathematics. Or they claim that some important mathematical theorem or proof which has appeared in mathematics textbooks for many years is totally debunked by their enclosed paper.” Did any of those authors outside of the mathematics academy make such an incredible discovery? I’ve yet to see an affirmative answer from one of those university mathematicians.

Therefore, it’s high time that Johnz backed up his bold assertion with evidence. It is not just a matter of claiming that all of the world’s biologists and physicists are wrong about the concepts Johnz has denied. Johnz is accusing many of his Christian brethren within the university academy of deliberate fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Until he provides evidence of fraud and witnesses to that fraud, Johnz has failed to comply with the Bible’s mandates about accusations against the brethren.

Of course, I’m also curious as to why Johnz has not used similar accusatory language in rebuking the chronic dishonesty in terms of the many examples of YEC fraud posted on these forum threads. (Readers who missed those examples can find lists at the TalkOrigins Quote-mine project as well as through simple Google searches. There are many such lists of “creation science” fraud sound-bites. The Potholer54 series dealing with the Golden Crocoduck nominees looks at violations of the nineth commandment by many prominent Young Earth Creationists. Has Johnz ever accused those self-described Christians of fraud? At least in their cases the evidence is clear and unambiguous.)


“In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution … is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions.” Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates 1986 (talkorigins)

in the Oxford Concise Science Dictionary we find the following definition:

“evolution: The gradual process by which the present diversity of plant and animal life arose from the earliest and most primitive organisms, which is believed to have been continuing for the past 3000 million years.”

…This is not a scientific definition…Standard dictionaries are even worse:.(talkorigins)

“evolution: …the doctrine according to which higher forms of life have gradually arisen out of lower…” - Chambers
"evolution: …the development of a species, organism, or organ from its original or primitive state to its present or specialized state; phylogeny or ontogeny" - Webster’s (TalkOrigins)

“Talk origins” uses specious arguments about the Oxford definition such as does this account for taller caucasians or different colored peppered moths. This type of argumentation merely reveals their ideology, and illustrates the random and unstructured thinking that leads to truncated definitions which do not satisfy the normal conditions of a reasonable scientific definition.

biology : a theory that the differences between modern plants and animals are because of changes that happened by a natural process over a very long time.

Biological (or organic) evolution is change in the properties of populations of organisms or groups of such populations, over the course of generations. The development, or ontogeny, of an individual organism is not considered evolution: individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are ‘heritable’ via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportions of different forms of a gene within a population, such as the alleles that determine the different human blood types, to the alterations that led from the earliest organisms to dinosaurs, bees, snapdragons, and humans.
Douglas J. Futuyma (1998)

The statement that individual organisms do not evolve is absurd… it is a straw man, brought up only to divert from the fact that a change in allele frequency in a population which does not ultimately result at some time in the development of various new species, such that all species have developed from one or few original primitive species, would not be considered the type of evolution meant whenever the subject of evolution is mentioned in a biological sense. Yet we find confusion in thought. To say that evolution may be slight or it may be substantial… well sure. But to define it as slight? (as in the truncated definition)? Talk orgins seems to disagree with the following quote…

> The classic example which supports this theory is that of the peppered moth in England. The moth can be either dark or light colored. Prior to the industrialization of central England, the light-colored allele was most prevalent. The light-colored moths would hide on the white-barked trees and avoid bird predation. But the pollution generated by the new industries stained the light-colored trees dark. Gradually the light-colored moth was attacked and that allele became much less prevalent. In its place, the dark-colored allele became the most predominant allele because moths that carried that allele could camouflage themselves on the stained trees and avoid being eaten by their bird predators. Clearly the population had evolved to a higher adaptive

So I maintain that the truncated definition is deceptive, and incomplete.

(Chris Falter) #281

Hi @johnZ -

I had a problem understanding what was being quoted as “the talkOrigins” definition in the enormous box which contains many different quotes from different sources.

I didn’t understand why the Merriam-Webster definition was being introduced. It seems completely irrelevant–but maybe I missed something.

I don’t understand how it is that someone who speaks of small allele changes over short periods of time is somehow, by logical necessity, having a fundamental disagreement with someone who is speaking of larger allele changes over longer periods of time. If the definition of evolution is allele changes, then it would seem to include both cases.

And I really don’t understand how it is deceptive to say that evolution over short periods of time would involve small allele changes, and over longer periods of time would involve larger allele changes. To me, deceptive is a fighting word. It is a take-off-the-gloves-and-demolish-your-opponent fashion of disagreeing. Is that how you intended to come across?


(George Brooks) #282

@Chris_Falter it is not surprising that @johnZ would object to the rather conventional principle that the longer two gene pools are separated from each other … the “bigger” the allele changes that time will allow.


(1) Yet scientists and the textbooks and papers they publish say otherwise. It is more accurate to say that the above statement is absurd.

(2) If Johnz’s statement is valid, then what are some examples of individual organisms which have evolved?

(3) Anyone who understands how evolutionary processes operate will also be struck by the fact that an individual organism’s genome does not change (evolve) over the course of its lifetime. If individual organisms evolve, I’d like to hear a description of how that works.

I couldn’t make sense of that either.

(Benjamin Kirk) #284

John, we’re back to your confusion. Changes in allele frequencies are anything but slight. Hence my challenge to you to state what proportion of the functional genetic differences between you and a mouse (not a slight difference) are merely allelic, and your refusal to answer this relevant question.

In other words, your characterization of the definition as “slight” has no basis in reality. Again, the proportion of alleles is a fact regardless of how one proposes that the genetic differences came to be. What proportion are just allelic, John? Do you even have the slightest idea what “allele frequency” means, despite your ability to regurgitate the definition of “allele” correctly?

Yet you’ve not explained, just asserted. Many of your accusations are objectively false. I maintain that you have no factual basis for making your claims.

(Benjamin Kirk) #285

I agree. So is “fraudulent,” but JohnZ has offered nothing but empty assertions to support his serious accusations.

(Chris Falter) #286

Hi Ben, I appreciate your attention to detail. My wording was much too vague, and I thank you for helping maintain accuracy.